While the Green Bay Packers were not winners on the scoreboard during Thursday night’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens, they weren’t without their victories.
Tides turned in some positional battles, both in expected and surprising ways. Breakout stars continued to shine against the odds. Even sitting Aaron Rodgers gave more time to a carousel of three quarterbacks all vying to back up the Packers’ star.
It wasn’t quite the football the Packers hope to bring into their regular-season opener against the Chicago Bears, but here are three of their best plays from the 26-13 loss in Baltimore.
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Curtis Bolton Swipes Tipped Interception
While much-praised Tony Brown actually tipped the pass, Bolton showed good ball awareness and, more importantly, hands in grabbing the deflect ball out of the air for a pick. The Packers will want to work with him on getting farther up the field in the future, but it does breathe new air into Bolton’s future in Green Bay.
If there was a special teams edge that James Crawford was bringing to the fight for a spot at inside linebacker, Bolton gained ground with an all-around strong performance against the Ravens, racking up four defensive tackles, two special teams tackles, a deflected pass and a tackle for a loss while playing 50 percent more snaps — 36 to 24 — than his competitor.
For a second straight week, Ty Summers led the team in tackles — though, on-the-bubble Chandon Sullivan matched him with five — keeping the positional battle at inside linebacker nice and fiery.
Darrius Shepherd Hauls in 2nd Preseason Touchdown
Shepherd didn’t fill up the stat sheets with any big-yardage receptions, but he did snag one of his three catches in the end zone, giving him his second preseason touchdown after catching his only pass — a 14-yarder from DeShone Kizer — for a score in last week’s opener.
A guy who can be at the right place at the right time is sometimes exactly what an offense needs, which also helps Shepherd’s case in terms of making the 53-man roster. Right now, the top five or six are mostly settled, but there are still four receivers vying for what will likely be two open receiver spots after final cuts.
Trevor Davis would be a shoo-in for one of those spots after a strong early training camp, but he has yet to play in the preseason for the Packers. He sat out Thursday night with a stinger that has held him out of multiple practices since last week.
J’Mon Moore is also technically still in the running; although, he didn’t play Thursday night in a game where he needed to start shining to rise above the competition.
Allen Lazard Gains Big First Down
The fourth and final name vying with Shepherd, Davis and Moore also had productive night, exemplified in his first-down catch that saw him shed a few tackles and spin-move his way for extra yardage. While it lacks the glamor of Shepherd’s touchdown catch, it helped him lead the Packers in receiving with three receptions for 63 yards. Jake Kumerow, who is expected to make the final roster, followed him with three catches for 52 yards.
An interesting point when comparing Lazard and Shepherd is what they offer the Packers in the passing game. Whereas Shepherd is the smallest in the receiving corps at 5-foot-11, 186 pounds, Lazard contrasts largely as one of the biggest options — 6-foot-5, 227 pounds — attempting to make the roster. They also each entered the league as undrafted free agents.